Life with an HTC Touch: Week 4
To accompany Ian Wrigley’s Life with an iPhone article, we decided to run a parallel piece about Life with an HTC Touch. Here, Tim Danton, editor of PC Pro, provides a hands-on, personal, real-life view of using the Touch day to day.
In this fourth update, he gives Windows Live Messenger a workout and tries to work out whether or not he’s missing a built-in numeric keypad. Look out for updates every Monday.
Week 4: Quick on the dial?
As any previous visitors to this ongoing article will know, I’m always looking for comments from people asking what they’d like me to cover. What I hadn’t noticed (before checking it on Friday night) was the flurry of comments made in response to my previous entry, spurred on by PC Pro’s own Mobile & Wireless columnist, Paul Ockenden.
Paul’s comment was this: “OK Tim, you’re sitting in the pub with some friends. You suddenly spot the telephone number hastily scribbled on the back of your hand and you realise that you’ve forgotten to make a very important call.
“There are two phones on the table in front of you, the Touch and an old-skool mobile (maybe a Nokia) which has a big chunky numeric keypad plus red and green buttons.
“Which phone does your hand instinctively go to in order to make that call?”
Paul confidently predicted I’d go for the Nokia, and he’s absolutely right. And he’s also right to highlight this as one of the Touch’s weaknesses. By removing the numeric keypad, or indeed any keypad, it’s indisputably more tricky to quickly dial a new number.
But, as Paul has so wisely written himself on occasion, there’s no single smartphone that’s right for everyone. Some people, to my amazement, actually like the breeze block that is the Nokia 9500 Communicator, while others opt for the ultra-sleek style of Motorola’s Razr.
Now if your primary reason for buying a new phone is to call people on it, the Touch probably won’t be for you. The simplest way to make a call is to use the “wall of contacts” – a 3 x 3 grid of people, ideally complete with photos (and, a minor point, but HTC compresses these photos far too much, spoiling its wow factor). Click on a face, and you then get dropped into Windows Mobile’s Contacts application for the relevant person – you can then select to send a text or give them a call.
To dial a new number, I’d have to press the green dial button (one of the two HTC deems to keep on the fascia), and then a finger-friendly on-screen display lets me type in the number directly. It’s not a huge hassle, but a keypad would undeniably be easier.
To me, what’s more important is call quality, and I’ve precisely no complaints about the Touch here. Whether using the hands-free kit or the device itself, calls come through loud and clear, and no-one has yet complained about having trouble hearing me on the other end either.
In the same set of comments, Marisa1 asked about how well the Windows Live application works. Really, it’s two applications: Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Search. I’ve found Live Messenger very fussy – I had to reboot the Touch on one occasion to make the service work – but I suspect this has more to do with Microsoft than it does HTC. Sometimes it’s not possible to see which of your contacts is online either… hardly ideal.